Valuable Takeaways from The Social Institute Parent Talk
As a parent, what do you need to be aware of when it comes to technology? How can you help your kids make good choices online? Is social media all bad? These are some of the questions most parents have when thinking about teens and technology.
Our FCDS community was fortunate to learn from Sean Kelly with The Social Institute. He spoke with our Middle School and Upper School students and our parents about how to win at social media. Here are some helpful takeaways:
Screen time is increasingly pervasive
Not a shocker to any of us. But did you know that teens reported spending 9 hours a day looking at a screen? And 75% of teens age 13-17 use Instagram or Snapchat. Of course, 100% of teens age 13-18 reported knowing more about social media than adults do. So online use is real and something we need to talk about. When talking about screen time, think about group texts, online gaming, social media, videos, streaming, and even emails. Here’s a full list.
A new way to make an impression
Do you know who your child is following? Many kids follow famous people and these people are now daily influencers in your child’s life. Additionally, “normal” gets distorted on social media. Many images are filtered and appearances changed. Kids can feel bad about their own lives and bodies oftentimes only showing their “best selves” on social media and only focusing on the number of people who like their posts.
The reality of the world today
Fair or not, people will make judgments about what you like on social media. Our kids learned that one bad decision on social media can cost you a college acceptance, a job, an internship, or an athletic scholarship. And once a photo is out there it can never really be deleted.
Social media can be used for good
Everyone can make a good impression on social media if they think before they post. By showing things they care about and accomplishments they’ve achieved, your kids' social pages can reflect well on their character and impress college admission officers and recruiters. Keeping it positive and clean helps too!
Parents need to be role models
If you’re always looking at your phone, then your kids will think it’s okay to look at theirs. Most kids report that they’ve seen their parents text while driving and it makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. So please don’t text and drive. And don’t text your children when they’re in school. It only gives them another reason to check their phone during the school day.
Top Tips for Parents
1) Huddle don’t helicopter. Kids want your help but don’t want you to freak out. If they’re afraid of your reaction or what you’ll do to them, they may not tell you when something questionable or even unsafe happens online.
2) Ask thoughtful questions. Find out why your child likes Fortnite or what your child likes best about Instagram. When you show interest, your child will be more likely to open up and share what’s happening.
3) If you monitor, talk first. There are several monitoring tools like Ask to Buy, Bark, Find My Friends, Circle with Disney, or Life360 that help parents keep track of their children online and offline. If you decide to use one or more of these tools, be sure to talk to your kids first—and explain why using a monitoring app is important to you.
4) Consider a family social standards agreement. Having an agreement about technology can help your family stick to your rules and hold each other accountable. Here’s a sample agreement from The Social Institute that you can use.
If your child doesn’t understand why you want to control his or her technology, explain it this way. Using technology is like driving a car. First, you need education, then you need to drive with an adult, and then once you’ve proven yourself you can drive alone. So simply put experience is needed before downloading apps, setting up social media accounts, or joining group texts.
At FCDS, we believe we have an important role in shaping our students’ academic success as well as their strength of character. That’s why we want to educate students and parents alike so as a community we can help each other and always represent our core values.
If you’d like to see our school for yourself, just schedule a tour. And one last thought: every family is different so do what’s best for yours.